Airbnb Experiences may be on pause, but they will play an important role in the company’s recovery, CEO Brian Chesky said in a recent interview with Kara Swisher for her Recode Decode podcast.
Asked for the best-case scenario for Airbnb a year from now, Chesky described a scenario where Airbnb succeeds in meeting the demand for affordable accommodations and said he hopes he will be able to say in a year that, “ Online Experiences blew up and they led to Airbnb Experiences truly catching on in pop culture.”
Chesky also indicated that an increase in drive trips and desire to avoid crowds could lead travelers to seek out less high-profile destinations, and more niche and offbeat experiences. “They basically all go to the same damn cities. They go to Vegas, Miami, Rome, New York, Paris. They stay in a few hotel districts, and they go to the same 10 landmarks with selfie sticks and take photos,” he said of pre-COVID travel trends. He went on to suggest that Airbnb Experiences could fill a gap in things to do in cities where restaurants, bars, and other local businesses do not survive the crisis.
IPO in 2020 Not Ruled Out
This year is not out of the question for the company to go public. Chesky says the company was ready to take the important step of filing its S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission by March 31, and he has not ruled out an IPO later this year.
Olympic Experiences a COVID Casualty
Airbnb had plans for experiences led by Olympic athletes at Tokyo 2020. Chesky said they had expected 400,000 Airbnb guests at the games and was working with Olympians looking to supplement their incomes. With the Olympics postponed, some of those Olympians are hosting online experiences.
Operators: Expect Safety Standards
Chesky hopes to establish Airbnb as a standard-bearer for cleanliness and health. The company is developing a cleaning protocol with former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and plans to certify hosts. Airbnb’s fragmented host community and lack of cleaning staff put it at a disadvantage compared to hotels and attractions. If the company can create a credible cleaning standard, expect that to also play a big role in the return of Airbnb Experiences.
The full interview is available via all the major podcast apps, and here.